St. Maarten Government officially establishes development fund

POSTED: 06/7/12 1:04 PM
Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams (second left) watches as Marinka Gumbs (right) signs the notarial deed establishing the St. Maarten Development Fund (SDF). (L to R) SDF Board Member Joy Arnell, Notary Henry Parisius and SDF President Richelda Emmanuel also witnessed the signing. (DCOMM photo)

GREAT BAY- St. Maarten will welcome its own funding agency – St. Maarten Development Fund (SDF) – on August 1. Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams witnessed the signing of the deed to establish the organization on Wednesday. The new agency will focus on sourcing and administering social funding for the island.
SDF will take over from the Fund for Social Development and Economic Activities (Reda Sociaal) and Antillean Co-Financing Agency (Amfo), which partly ceased funding to non-governmental agencies in November 2011. This was one of the consequences of the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles.
From a united platform, social organizations have consistently appealed to the Netherlands to allow Amfo to continue until 2017 and inject some 45 million guilders annually to deal with the nations “acute social issues.” They have premised their position on the belief that St. Maarten will not be able provide adequate funding for several key developmental projects to continue.
The Prime Minister said that successful community development and nation building will only be achieved if government, non-governmental organizations and the business sector join forces.
“Just like it is all over the world community development and social issues are also important to the government of St.Maarten. In our case much emphasis will be placed on joint, integrated and inter-sectoral approaches of social development on St. Maarten.”
She admitted that “the survivability of this sector (NGO sector) is sustained through the vision and passion of community minded citizens but ultimately can only realistically function through financial contributions.”
The prime minister has highlighted the need for collaboration but the non-governmental organizations have yet to hear details of how the establishment of the new fund will affect them.
SDF will be run by a three member board comprising Richielda Emmanuel (president), Joy Arnell and Marinka Gumbs. The 2012 budget allocated funds to the operational expenses for the SDF. The board is currently focusing on writing a plan and policy framework for the year 2012/2013, staffing and setting up of its office.
Prime Minister Wescot-Williams said an important part of this transition process from Dutch aid, is that SDF will be seeking a working agreement with existing financial agencies such as Amfo and Scanfonds.

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